So what is a mini macro? Well, let’s look at it as a single sector cell site that you would mount on a pole or up on a rooftop. It would be a standalone site. Softbank is tossing around the idea, which they have done in Japan, to have Sprint do it here in the USA. Why? Because it’s cheaper than a full-blown cell site and it helps you concentrate your signal in a specific area.
So in this mini macro you would have everything you would at a cell site or a small cell site. You would have backhaul, a router, BBU, RRH, antenna, hybriflex and RF cables. The difference would be that you would just have one BBU and RRH and the backhaul could be anything to tie the eNodeB into a core. It would look like a single sector cell site. with an OMNI on top.
So let me break it down, on a small pole, monopole, utility pole, or on a rooftop you would have a very small BTS with the router and battery all-inclusive. The backhaul could be anything, copper, fiber, or wireless. All in a small form factor. Well, that sounds like a small cell, doesn’t it? Well, it is but the power will be well above 5 watts, probably around 20 watts. It would be just one sector, possibly one antenna. In the case of TDD it would just be one antenna whereas with FDD you would need to have 2 antennas or maybe a combiner and filter.
So imagine if you will, it will be a small cabinet, with or without batteries. It will cover more than a small cell. So you will want to have a little more height to get the biggest bang for your buck. The key is to maximize signal for the least amount of money possible. So think back to the days of paging when you put the site in where you needed it the most, this is very similar. You want to cover an area. I would say that a Macro site would cover about 35 Kilometers, (about 21.5 miles), and an outdoor small cell would cover about 2 kilometers, (about 1.25 miles). I would think that a mini macro would cover somewhere in between, about 12 kilometer, (about 7.5 miles).
If the deployment is managed right, I would think the mini macro would be put together as a unit and then deployed as a kit so it should be very close to plug and play. The power would need to be connected, the antenna would need to be connected, then all you need is backhaul, let’s say wireless so it has to be connected and aligned.
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In my world the station would power up, the backhaul would be connected, and then the station would come up and be integrated. The commissioning should be just like a small cell so it should be ready for plug and play, again, in my eyes. Integration would be done remotely while the installers are still on site. Then the installers could test the commissioning and verify the unit is working by testing it with a Smartphone device, just like they do for small cells now.
OK, I know this was a high level explanation but I think you get the picture, right? What I didn’t tell you is that this is the Sprint plan for densification, just like what Softbank did over in Japan. They had great success over there in getting these deployed and covering a densely populated region. This is probably the plan over here now that Softbank is taking over Sprint. I just hope they remember KISS, Keep It Simple Stupid! I think that looking at the Network Vision deployment you realize how complicated it became. If the mini-macro can be simple to install and simple to turn up and simple to test, you have a winning combination. Network Vision was anything but simple for most of the deployment teams that I talked too. It was a huge learning curve for many of them. When going to the lowest bidder it’s hard to get experienced crews repeatedly that can handle something like that.
So there you have it, some way to explain something new in the USA. I hope it helps. What do you think?
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